Mary Gauthier’s Rifles & Rosary Beads (In the Black) is a breathtaking collection of heartbreaking, authentic songs co-written with American veterans and their families, through a project called Songwriting With Soldiers. Songwriting With Soldiers organizes songwriting workshop retreats during which the projects are initiated collaboratively, with the resulting albums available for a donation.
Michele Gazich’s violin tracks, on numbers like “Soldiering On,” and “The War After the War,” is that kind of playing that only the most soulful can master, with an easy fluidity and the ability to bend notes that inevitably pulls at your heartstrings.
“Got Your Six” has a rumbling bottom end that instantly gets your groove going. The collection is lyrically straightforward, with lines like “invisible, the war after the war,” and “the color guard kicks it off on Veteran’s Day,” sung in Gauthier’s smooth expansive voice. “Soldiering On,” is a buildup song that intensifies emotionally. “Still on the Ride,” co-written by Josh Geartz, presents the experience of one who is still here, despite fears of disappearing any moment – a song written to call attention to the depression and suicide rate among veterans. “Brothers” was co-written by Gauthier, Meghan Couninghan, Britney Pfad, and Georgia Middleman about the unique challenges facing women in combat: “What must I do to prove that I’m a brother too? 70 pound pack plus you on my back, spilled my blood on the roll, don’t that make me a brother too?” Poignant and honest, these songs are brought to full impact by Gauthier’s smooth playing and authentic vocals.
A wonderful sounding, moving album with a good cause behind it.
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